Health Benefits from Coral Calcium
Stephen Holt, MD, LLD(Hon.) ChB., PhD, ND, FRCP (C)
MRCP (UK), FACP, FACG, FACN, FACAM, OSJ
Defining Coral Calcium
Coral calcium from Okinawa, Japan is a valuable, holistic, mineral, dietary supplement, with emerging promise for wellness promotion. While coral calcium is principally composed of calcium carbonate (24%-30% calcium, Ca, in below sea-collected corals and 33%-40% in land collected coral sand), it contains varying proportions of magnesium, Mg. There are two principal types of coral calcium. One collected below sea level and the other collected from land deposits of coral sand. Magnesium can be blended with coral calcium, if one desires a 2:1 ratio of Ca:Mg in coral calcium supplements. In addition, coral calcium contains up to 70 or so different trace elements in small amounts (parts per million). Thus, coral calcium is not just calcium; it is a holistic mineral supplement.
The proposed health benefits of coral calcium have emerged from folklore, rhetoric, speculation and contemporary science. There has been much debate about the role of minerals in the health of Okinawans, but the evidence for this is mainly as a consequence of associations or correlations (Holt, 2002 and 2003). The documented longevity of Okinawans and their mineral-rich environment has proven very seductive to anti-aging researchers who have started to examine the effects of coral calcium on longevity in animals.
Emerging Science on Coral Calcium
In one experiment performed by Prof. N. Tominaga of the Dept. of Medical Zoology of Saitama Medical School, experimental animals were divided into two groups receiving a similar diet. In one group the animals received normal “tap water,” whereas the other group received alkaline-ionized water, prepared by treating tap water with coral calcium. It was noted that the group of animals that received coral water had on average a longer life span. Whilst this is not proof of a longevity effect of coral calcium in humans, it is very promising data.
Scientific studies performed at the Futaba Nutrition School of the Kagawa Nutrition University in Japan show the benefit of coral calcium in improvements in bone mineral density when given in a balanced composition of 600 mg of calcium with 300 mg of magnesium (2:1 Ca:Mg ratio). Several groups of subjects received a combination of exercise with or without calcium supplements from coral calcium and milk. The greatest increases in bone density were noted in subjects given a regimen of milk and coral calcium supplement combined, followed by strength training and walking. Coral calcium has now formed part of a comprehensive strategy for the nutritional management of osteoporosis in The Antiporosis Plan.
Dr. K. Ishitani, M.D. of Higashi Sapporo Hospital recently presented clinical tests of coral calcium when taken by individuals suffering from a variety of common diseases. Dr. Ishitani and his colleagues administered 2.8 g of balanced calcium (2:1 Ca:Mg ratio) to more than 20 patients over a period of three months. The doctors observed changes in bone density, blood lipids and blood pressure. Alterations were also observed in symptoms such as headaches, heart palpitations, peripheral edema (limb swelling), and the emotional state, as well as in degrees of anger, anxiety, and muscle spasm. Blood pressure was reduced from an average of 140 mm Hg to 132 mm Hg; total cholesterol fell by about 7%. Dr. Ishitani described the administration of coral calcium on the subjects as very favorable. These preliminary clinical data are fascinating and may be explained in part by the benefits of multi-mineral supplementation.
Coral calcium has been reported in an anecdotal manner to improve sleep and induce relaxation. Coral calcium was administered in a dose of approximately 1.5 g to 12 students by Dr. S. Sugimoto of the Aichi Syukutoku University in relation to the function of the central nervous system as measured by electroencephalogram (EEG). The test showed a measurable increase in total alpha-1 wave activity on the EEG on students who drank coral-treated water, versus subjects who took regular tap water. The alpha-2 wave activity in the brain also increased with the administration of coral water. These results imply that coral calcium may have a stabilizing effect on the CNS with a tendency to “brain relaxation.”
In recent experiments (2002), Dr. K. Ishitani has studied a small group of diabetes mellitus patients who received 2.8 g of coral calcium with lower magnesium content (15:1 Ca:Mg ratio). Over a three-month period, Dr. Ishitani produced results showing improvements in blood sugar control in half the diabetes patients; the small numbers of subjects studied do not permit statistical evaluations. There are many reasons why coral calcium could improve blood sugar control among diabetics. Calcium alone promotes insulin production and magnesium activates insulin receptors. Much more research is required to further define the role of mineral replacement in diabetic control.
Some novel research observations involve the incorporation of coral calcium into chewing gum. Dr. M. Mori, M.D. of the Institute of Clinical and Pharmacokinetic Study in Japan studied nine patients with heartburn and eight with non-specific abdominal complaints. In these studies, all nine patients with heartburn had complete symptomatic improvements, and 25% of those with non-specific digestive complaints completely improved. The remaining subjects showed lesser degrees of improvement. Coral calcium appears to exert an acid-neutralizing capability in these experiments.
Coral calcium is a valuable category of dietary supplements with several potential health benefits. This dietary supplement has been hurt by “TV hype” and the nation has been confused by pseudo-scientific promotions. Coral calcium is here to stay as a premium nutraceutical with a holistic mineral profile.